On board our last cruise to South America HA had different sets of walkie talkies for sale. Upon return home there was an article in a travel magazine that walkie talkies purchased in the United States are legal only in the United States and that in some foreign counties they must be licensed and in others the band they are on in the US may interfere with emergency chanels in those countries. The article stated that you could be fined and the walkie talkies confiscated. Does anyone have expierence in this?
I have no experience in this, but the statement certainly DOES make sense. The R.F. (radio frequency) that the walkie talkies use in the U.S. may well be dedicated to something else entirely in another country, ie: emergency communications, police, or any number of other uses. Frankly, the power output of a walkie is so low, that I think they'd be hard pressed to find you, but I'd not want to take the chance in a foreign country.
I do have both Amateur and Commercial Radio FCC licenses and can say that operation of a "walkie-talkie" radio that is legal to operate without a license in the United States is likely not to be in many other countries. The likelihood that the frequencies used by your portable radio will be used by emergency personal is very unlikely. Every so many years most countries get together for a meeting (WARC) were they agree on what frequencies will be used for a specific purpose (i.e. commercial radio, TV, emergency. etc.). The frequency used for FMRS (Family Mobile Radio Service) which is used on most but not all walkie-talkies is reserved for low-power non-commercial use. However, many countries require a license to operate transmitters in these frequencies. Even folks that have licenses issued in other countries require reciprocal operator licenses.
Best advice, don't use the walkie-talkie anywhere except on the ship and on land in the United States.
When you're docked it's the same as being on land. Why does it always seem when they don't want people to do something they seem to always pull out the "emergency" card. The frequencies allocated for typical walkie-talkies are not used by emergency personnel in the 100+ countries that sign the WARC treaties. Although it doesn't mean that the radios couldn't be used by people under catastrophic circumstances for emergency service.